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Re: Simple, Cheap, easy, CO2 systems

Tom Barr:
 >> Well here's some photos of a simple multi tank CO2 system and
 >> detailed parts all available at Home Depot. Regulator is a Cornelius
 >> UL listed regulator, very commonly used, similar to what most beer
 >> places/ commercial ice sales/soda fountain vendor companies sell,
 >> install. Runs about 50$.
 >> The problem I have with this DIY cheap approach is the use of these
 >> brewery regulators. They are not factory preset to control the delivery
 >> of Co2 for an aquarium application.  Why should they be?

Wright Huntley:

>They should *not* be, for they are deliberately designed to be adjustable.
>That is their main function! They give an adjustable lower output pressure 
>from a full or partially empty tank. [The "factory preset" ones allow 
>exactly the same adjustments, but may cheat you out of a handle to make it 
>easy to do and maybe even gages to see what you are doing.]

Funny, I don’t think users of Amano or Dupla products ever feel cheated not having extra gages and valve controls that the don’t need for an aquarium application that can be misadjusted and can go wrong.  They want and get dependable systems that last forever and don’t dump.  

 >> They are for brewing after all.  Don't think slapping a good needle
 >> valve on the end will fix this fatal flaw.

Wright Huntley:

>What fatal flaw? That they let you adjust pressure for optimum use at 
>various tank depths? That they let you set for minimum pressure to reduce 
>any leakage losses? I fail to find any flaw, much less a fatal one, here.

You see that as an advantage?  Needle valve flow control is all you need to reach “various tank depths”.   And I suppose you would want control over leakage losses if  you  are going to gerry-rig your system yourself w/ multiple needle valves and several additional brass connections.  Yes, I agree.  If your system is DIY and prone to leaks, these are features you need.  Best to pay 50 bucks more and get a system w/o these potential flaws. 

 >> Use these regulators at your own risk.  The entire dumping phenomenon
 >> was caused by a guy selling that regulator for aquariums.  The
 > >advantage those so-called expensive aquarium regulators have over the
 >> cheap brewery regulators are they are factory preset for aquarium use.
 >> That's it.  No need for all the techno-babble. They also have a company
 >> backing them up with warrantees.

Wright Huntley:

>Dumping had absolutely nothing to do with regulator quality, and a lot to 
>do with improper use of a check-valve/diffuser as a flow restrictor. Read 
>the history before getting too indignant. Your comments are misplaced and 
>do the hobby little good, IMHO.

 >> How many of you that bought one of those bewery regulators for your
 >> aquarium had the thing dump on you? How many dumping victims got any
 >> compensation from that guy you bought them from?  The guy still won't
 >> admit the thing is faulty. Now Tom Barr is advocating using similar
 >> stuff....

Wright Huntley:

>Maybe because the regulators work just fine (if you don't try to use an
>Eheim diffuser to control flow rate). I have bought several and never had 
>a problem, but I first bothered to understand what I was doing.

Curious... how many of these things did you buy?  How many is ‘several’?  

>Used with a good flow-restricting valve, they work very well, indeed. The 
>expensive ones sold in the aquarium trade have exactly the same tendency 
>to let pressure rise a little bit, near end of tank. That is a designed-in 
>property of *all* single-stage regulators. If used with no needle valve 
>and an Eheim check valve (as the only flow restrictor), they would dump 
>every bit as much.

You have no evidence for this assertion.  Besides, no true and reputable aquarium Co2 system was ever sold with no needle-valve and an Eheim diffuser as the only flow restrictor.   I don’t include the Co2 system sold by “that guy”.   Who had sold this crap for years and never admitted a problem or compensated anyone for losses due to dumping.  Lately, he has added a needle valve to his system and is acting as if this is the way its always been.   It is still just a band-aid IMHO.

>>> If you have a positive suction style reactors......powerheads or
 >>> filters sucking the CO2 gas out all the time and you make a drip in
 >>> the CO2/air line no water will back into this set up even if the tank
> >> runs zero pressure for days.....
> >>
 >>> So you don't need a check valve

> > When the powerhead or filter inevitably clogs or you have a power
 >> outage what happens then?  You get a back flow straight into the needle
 >> valve, regulator and tank.  I won't even go into the possible
 >> consequences should that happen.

>Hogwash! Exactly how many times has that happened to you? The physics of 
>the situation you describe doesn't lend itself to that mode of failure, 
>AFAIK. It is virtually impossible to get water back through the needle 
>valve, much less into a regulator or tank. You would need to create a 
>vacuum at the tank to do so.

The backflow happens whenever you stop the Co2 flow.   Everyone has experienced this.  Therefore, how can this be “hogwash”?  Whenever my solenoid stops the flow, water backs up to the check valve.   Therefore, if you don’t use a check valve and you are flowing Co2 into a filter, whenever the filter stops you will have backflow into your needle valve and regulator if this occurs when the Co2 runs out.   There is nothing impossible about it.

>> The advocacy here should be tempered with cautious <experiment at your
 >> own risk> disclaimers so everyone knows these DIY approaches come with
 >> many risks.

>Those have more to do with connection skills, valve ratings, etc. No one 
>should do DIY stuff if they don't understand that the tank falling and 
>breaking that top valve can create a mini-rocket and/or freeze your toes 
>with dry ice that suddenly forms. They should know that it is bad practice 
>to use teflon tape ahead of a needle valve, too. [I see some of your 
>precious LFS commercial systems doing exactly that, though!]

On this point we do agree.  These disclaimers and cautions should be made and DIY schemes challenged much more than they are in this forum.  If  you screw something up and wreck your aquarium or hurt yourself, you are on your own.